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US Says Drone Strike Kills Islamic State Leader in Syria

FILE - U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces soldiers search for Islamic State militants in Hassakeh, Syria, Jan. 28, 2022. The US Central Command said in a news release it killed Maher al-Agal, a top leader of the Islamic State in Syria, in a drone strike.

The U.S. military said Tuesday that a drone strike it launched has killed the leader of Islamic State in Syria, one of the five top leaders of the militant group, and it also seriously injured a close associate.

In a statement, the U.S. Central Command said Maher al-Agal was killed in the attack on a site outside Jindayris, in northwest Syria.

"Extensive planning went into this operation to ensure its successful execution. An initial review indicates there were no civilian casualties," the statement said.

The U.S. said al-Agal was responsible for developing IS networks outside of Iraq and Syria.

The strike reaffirms the U.S.’s “steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said Col. Joe Buccino, a Central Command spokesman, using a different acronym for the terror group. “The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization's ability to further plot and carry out global attacks."

Nonetheless, the spokesman added, "ISIS continues to represent a threat to the U.S. and partners in the region.” He said the U.S. “maintains a sufficient and sustainable presence in the region and will continue to counter threats against regional security."

In February, the top leader of Islamic State blew himself up during a U.S. military raid in Syria.

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.